Dominion’s End Volume 1: Raining Stars at World’s End
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Prologue: Jiang Shuyu – translated by Elkin
The moment I opened my eyes, I was immediately aware of how weak my body felt, to the point where it was hard to even breathe.
Was I badly wounded? That said, I ought be grateful I was still alive in the first place, since the last thing I had seen before closing my eyes pretty much had me pegged as dead. I never imagined I’d still have a chance to open my eyes again.
I just hoped I wasn’t injured too badly. In times like these, being a cripple was no different from being dead. That said…
Some might say it’s better to be dead than alive.
At a sudden sound, I tried my hardest to twist my neck to look over. My vision was still very blurry, but I could just about make out a white silhouette walking in, all four limbs present and hale, all moving very naturally. So, it shouldn’t be one of “those things.”
That person didn’t seem to notice that I was awake. They were bustling around in a world of their own. In the end, I could only speak up, though I didn’t expect to hear such a hoarse, low voice. How many days have I been sleeping for?
It was a miracle I hadn’t been abandoned.
“Where am I?”
The white-clothed person before me jumped and gaped at me with bulging eyes. It was only after a long moment that she screamed.
Yes, a woman for sure. That scream is quite something. I really hoped we were somewhere safe; otherwise, that would draw plenty of unwanted attention.
She rushed over to the bed and started looking around frantically. I hadn’t a clue what she was doing, but whatever it was, she wasn’t helping me up or giving me a glass of water.
Although my vision was slowly clearing, I still couldn’t see properly. I could only tell that I was lying in a white room, so white it was strange. It looked almost… clean.
“Where am I?” I repeated.
“Your home.” The woman in white finally paid attention to me and gently said, “Don’t worry, I’ve already pressed the call button. The doctor and your family will be over in just a moment.”
My home? Call button? Family? I was a bit lost.
The woman in white didn’t seem to plan on explaining further and my throat was screaming at me. At this point, there wasn’t a single question that was more pressing than the biological need for liquids.
She quickly poured me a glass, but instead left it on the table where I couldn’t reach and bent down to do something… Is she playing around with me?
I kept my face expressionless, unsure of how I was supposed to beg before she would hand over that glass.
Suddenly, the bed under me moved.
“Ah!” Could it be, this is—
The woman straightened and reassured me, “It’s fine, it’s fine, I just adjusted the bed so it’s easier for you to drink.”
I strained to move my neck and eyeballs, and only when I had confirmed that nothing else had appeared did I relax. Then I realized my posture had changed from fully horizontal to half-sitting up. I was bewildered. Is this a hospital bed? This was a rare thing in itself, and the fact that I had the chance to be lying in one was almost improbable.
The woman in white brought the cup to my mouth, and there was even a straw placed inside. She reminded me with worry in her voice, “Drink slowly. Be careful of choking.”
Why is it that I get better treatment only when I am injured so badly? Does that person actually feel guilty because I’ve gotten hurt?
He… can still feel guilt?
The moment I started drinking, I stopped caring about anything else. This water is too delicious! I concentrated my entire being on drinking. Am I too thirsty, or is this water simply just that tasty? I hadn’t drunk water that was this good in a long while.
I carefully sipped at the precious water, until the door crashed open, and I jolted into the air in surprise. It was only because the woman in white quickly held me down that I didn’t fall straight onto the floor.
What? I blinked. Someone rushed in, but I was reluctant to let go of the straw in my mouth, so I just watched them rush to the bedside as I drank. My thoughts were that even if there was something world-shattering, it would have to wait until I was done drinking this glass of water.
“Gē, you’re finally awake!”
I tried to focus my eyes, and slowly, the face of a crying girl emerged. With an oval face that still retained its childishness, she looked to be around fifteen to sixteen years old, with large, round eyes shining brightly from under crescent-shaped eyebrows. Just this pair of eyes was enough to make this girl worth a good deal of supplies.
She cried, wiped her tears, looked at me, and started crying again.
After finishing the water, I unwillingly let go of the straw in my mouth and asked her suspiciously, “Do we know each other?”
Her eyes widened. It seemed like my question was real shock to her. Maybe we really do know each other? Although I’d come to know a lot of people throughout the many years, there was no way I’d completely forget such a pretty and cute girl if I’d met her before.
Flustered, she exclaimed, “I-I’m your little sister!”
I was just about to say I didn’t have any little sisters when even more people rushed in from outside, around five or six of them.
I stared at them, squinting as I tried to make out their features. I didn’t recognize a single one of them. What is going on? Even if he sold me, no one would want such a wounded invalid!
After all, I wasn’t even worth a glass of water.
“Xiao Yu, you’re awake? You’re really awake?”
“Say something, Xiao Yu!”
Surrounded by these people, I felt at a complete loss. Having just woken up, my brains were still addled, and now this group of people kept shouting at me, sending waves of pain through my head. I hadn’t a clue what they were yelling about, and even if I caught the occasional sentence, I didn’t understand what it meant.
What is going on? Although it was possible it was all a calculated trap, I had to admit I simply wasn’t worth the effort for people to put up an act.
“Dàgē!” That “younger sister” of mine anxiously called out to one of them, “Èrgē just said he doesn’t know me!”
I looked toward that “Dàgē” — Big Brother was a very handsome man, and, creasing his brow, he asked, “Xiao Yu, do you remember me?”
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. My “sister” got even more agitated, shrieking, “You’re teasing me again! Even though you recognized me and Dàgē!”
“I don’t.” I shook my head lightly, noticing that my neck felt looser. It seemed like it was more a case of me lying down for too long, rather than being paralyzed. Whew. Only when I felt better did I continue responding to everyone. “You were the one who called him ‘Dàgē’.”
That “Big Brother’s” face darkened and he turned to ask the woman in white. “Nurse! What’s going on?”
So she’s a nurse? It was only now that I recognized her uniform, and it certainly matched the nurse’s uniforms in my memory. But how is it possible that there are still nurses around…?
The nurse frowned, and asked cautiously, “Do you remember your name?”
I didn’t know why, but I had a feeling it’d be pretty bad if I told them my name. They were clearly treating me as someone else, which was the only reason why they would take care of someone who was as grievously injured as me. Perhaps it was even because of a case of mistaken identity. But if they discovered that I am not that person, would I still be enjoying the same treatment?
But why would they mistake me for that person? Did my face get disfigured? I wanted to touch my face, but I couldn’t lift my hands, so I just gave up.
“I don’t remember.” This should be a safe enough answer.
Everyone’s expressions darkened, and the nurse said quickly, “I’ll call over the doctor.”
“Well, no matter what, Xiao Yu waking up is more important than anything else.” “Big Brother” remarked lightly. “It’s good that you’re up. Everything else can come in its own time.”
With that, everyone perked up, looking at me with eyes of hope.
Being on the receiving end of those gazes, a surge of guilt suddenly welled up in my heart. This Xiao Yu must mean a lot to them, and lying to them might mean her losing her chance of survival. Compared to Xiao Yu, so deeply cherished by many, why would I, who had nothing at all, want to bring harm to someone else just for the sake of survival?
“I’m not Xiao Yu.” I looked at them calmly and then admitted, “You’ve got the wrong person.”
Everyone looked surprised. That younger sister said bewilderedly, “How could we possibly not recognize you? Èrgē, what are you talking about?”
“What did you call me?” I suddenly realized something was amiss. I’d been feeling groggy just now and wasn’t hearing properly, so I had thought “Èrgē” was a name or a nickname, but when put together with “Dàgē,” “Big Brother,” I realized the real meaning of “Èrgē” — “second brother.”
The younger sister blinked, and obediently repeated her words. “Èrgē.”
No way! No matter how badly my looks were ruined, there is no way I could ever be called “Èrgē”!
Ignoring the weakness in my limbs, I strained to touch my face. The skin there was smooth, and although my face felt thinner, there wasn’t the bumpy feeling of scars, much less the texture of bandages and what not.
“What’s my name?” A chill crept over me. This situation was already beyond my expectations. What is going on? What is happening to me?!
“Jiang Shuyu.” Big Brother replied, looking troubled.
“…Which three characters?”
“Jiang for ‘jiāngyù,’ dominion. The ‘shu’ in ‘shūjí,’ ‘book.’ And the ‘yu’ in ‘yǔzhòu.’ ‘universe.'”
My breathing picked up, and a machine next to me let out a piercing wail.
The nurse exclaimed, “His breathing and heartbeat are too fast!”
Concerned voices around me were calling out, but none of them were calling out to me.
I’m not Xiao Yu, I’m not Xiao Yu. I’m called Guan Weijun. He always called me Xiao Jun, not Xiao Yu!
1 “Xiao Yu”: Our protagonist at first mistakes them to be calling her “小雨,” a girl’s name that means “rain,” when they’re instead calling her “小宇,” a boy’s name that is the first character for “universe.” Both names are pronounced “Xiao Yu.”